Pro-Europe Party Wins Bulgaria Elections, Socialists Yield

A tight race is predicted in Bulgaria's parliamentary election on Sunday as the Socialists, seen as closer to Russian Federation, aim to prevent another comeback by two-times centre-right premier Boyko Borisov. The scourge of graft loomed over the poll, with prosecutors launching multiple electoral fraud probes and television channels alleging sales of votes for as little as 15 euros. Five political parties are the frontrunners in Bulgaria's early parliamentary elections, the Central Election Commission reported after processing 78.79% of ballots by 6pm (time coincides with Moscow Time). Bulgarians are heading to the polls for the third time in four years in a sn.

The center-right GERB party has a clear mandate to form Bulgaria's next government following a parliamentary election on Sunday, its leader Boiko Borisov said.

The GERB party won 33 percent of the vote, the Balkan country's third in just 4 years, with the leftist Socialists trailing on 27.2 percent, partial official results with 26 percent of the ballots counted showed.

The first results are due Monday.

The leftist Socialists (BSP) came in second with 26.8% of the vote, followed by the nationalist alliance United Patriots with 9.1%.

The election in the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member of 7.2 million people was triggered when Borissov resigned after his candidate lost November's presidential ballot to a Russia-friendly Socialist.

A caretaker cabinet took over in late January, shortly after Radev was inaugurated and in position to dissolve the parliament and schedule the elections.

Borisov may also seek to bring the populist Will party, which is estimated to have won 12 seats, into a three-party coalition or try to lead a minority government.

On Bulgarian National Radio, NFSB leader Valeri Simeonov said the coalition was willing to negotiate with all parties, except "pro-Turkish ones", because "the present days require unity".

Viktor Orbán said he is grateful for the excellent cooperation that he and his Bulgarian counterpart have developed in recent years, and he expressed the hope that he will soon be able to welcome Boyko Borisov again as head of the Bulgarian government.

Such an outcome could complicate coalition building and fuel political instability in Bulgaria, EU's poorest member state. Exit polls showed it winning about 5 per cent of the vote, exceeding the 4-per-cent minimum threshold.

Volya's leader, businessman Veselin Mareshki, likes to style himself as a Bulgarian Donald Trump, Al Jazerra says.

Voter turnout stood at 42.74% at 16:00 CET on Sunday, according to CEC. He thanked all Bulgarians who voted for GERB. Some 10 percent of Bulgarians are of Turkish origin or are Muslims. More than 300,000 have settled permanently in neighboring Turkey, but still hold a Bulgarian passport and are eligible to vote in Bulgaria.

The tense relations have prompted a spat between the two nations' leaders. Bulgaria is home to a 700,000-strong Muslim minority, a lot of them Turks, while at least 200,000 ethnic Turks with Bulgarian passports live in Turkey.

  • Leroy Wright